Austrian bank, insurer say they won't make bid for embattled BAWAG

Austria's Ertse Bank and Wiener Staedtische AG, the nation's largest insurance company, said Tuesday they have ruled out making a bid for BAWAG, the troubled bank linked to last year's collapse of U.S. commodities brokerage Refco Inc. The two companies issued a joint statement saying they were "definitively" canceling tentative plans to make an offer for BAWAG, saying the terms "are less favorable for Austrian bank and insurance enterprises than for foreign bidders." In May, the Austrian government and other banks and insurance companies launched a plan to bail out BAWAG, Austria's fourth-largest bank, which lost more than €1 billion (US$1.28 billion) in soured currency speculation deals in the Caribbean. The bank also loaned former Refco CEO Phillip Bennett several hundred million dollars just before Refco filed for bankruptcy in October.